Coaching Team

Our coaches are all fully qualified and paid staff

Head Coach

Gary Vandermeulen BA


Gary is the head coach. He is a former Olympian (1988) for Canada and Olympic Coach for Great Britain (2000, 2004).  He has coached at the highest level including coaching a swimmer to be ranked #1 in the world. His CV  is a long list of high achieving events and he brings his understanding and teaching methodology to Phoenix.  (you can read Gary's full CV on our 'about our club' page).  Gary was inducted into the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in November 2011 in his home town of Vernon British Columbia.  Gary has a BA in History & Psychology.


He is also the founder of Sheppard Swim School and Phoenix Aquatics with his wife Alison Sheppard, herself a top performing Scottish & Team GB swimmer. Alison was the first female swimmer to compete in 5 Olympic Games (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)

Cristian Paven

Is qualified in Sport Coaching and has been working with Sheppard Swim School since autumn 2011. (Cristian we need a picture!!)

Sarah Baillie


Is is coach with Phoenix Aquatics and has been involved with competitive swimming since she was very young.  She was a very successful swimmer.  She has been working closely with our coaching staff and now teaches many of our youngest swimmers on our swim team at Wallace HS and also teaches swimming lessons at Bannockburn HS with Sheppard Swim School.

Coaching information

Our swim club has extensive coaching experience.  We welcome coaches from across Scotland to visit our team and learn from our unique coaching style.  Gary Vandermeulen has been developing this coaching style for his entire coaching career and has found tremendous success both in customer satisfaction, repeat customers and performance.  If you are interested in volunteering with our coaching staff please contact Gary by email:  If you would like to read more about swimming you can visit Gary's swim coaching blog called swimcoachingblog.